Disaster Management and Disaster Management Cycle

By Sudheer Kumar K|Updated : October 16th, 2020

Disaster Management

Disaster Management is a very important topic in UPSC IAS Mains GS Paper-III. UPSC asks at least one question from this topic every year in Mains GS Paper-III. In this article, we will be discussing the meaning of Disaster and Disaster Management and different phases of Disaster Management.


A disaster is a sudden, calamity that seriously disrupts the functioning of a community or society and causes human, material, and economic or environmental losses and the impact that exceed the community’s or society’s ability to cope using its own resources. 

Disaster is a social problem as the economically and socially weaker sections of the population are the ones that are most vulnerable and seriously affected. Among the vulnerable sections, elderly persons, women, children— especially women rendered destitute, children orphaned on account of disasters and differently-abled persons are exposed to higher risks.

Disasters disrupt progress we have achieved and destroy the hard-earned fruits of painstaking developmental efforts, often pushing societies and nations, in their quest for progress, back by several decades.

Types of Disasters

Disasters are majorly two types, natural and man-made.


Disaster Risk Profile in India

India, being a geographically diverse country, is prone to various kinds of disasters, natural as well as man-made:

  • 6 per cent of the Indian landmass is prone to earthquakes (of moderate to very high intensity)
  • More than 40 million hectares (12 per cent of land) is prone to floods and river erosion
  • Nearly 5,700 km of the 7,516 km long coastline, is prone to cyclones and tsunamis
  • About 68 per cent of the cultivable area is vulnerable to drought and
  • Hilly areas are at risk from landslides and avalanches
  • Vulnerability to disasters of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) origin also exists

Increased vulnerabilities to disaster risks can be linked to:

  • expanding population
  • urbanisation and industrialisation
  • development within high-risk zones
  • environmental degradation
  • climate change

Disaster Management

Disasters can not be stopped from occurring but can be managed to minimise its effects. 

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies defined Disaster Management as the organization and management of resources and responsibilities for dealing with all humanitarian aspects of emergencies, in particular preparedness, response and recovery in order to lessen the impact of disasters.

Until the beginning of the millennium, nations respond to disasters after they occurred. But there was a paradigm shift, from the previous relief-centric response to proactive prevention, mitigation and preparedness-driven approach for safeguarding developmental gains and to decrease the loss of life, livelihood and property.

Thus, disaster management aims to reduce the impacts of disasters, minimizing losses of life and property. 

Disaster Management Cycle

According to National Disaster Management Policy, 2009, the Disaster Management Cycle includes the following:

  • Mitigation
  • Preparedness
  • Response
  • Recovery and Rehabilitation

Mitigation – It minimizes the effects of the disaster.

Mitigation activities actually eliminate or reduce the probability of disaster occurrence, or reduce the effects of unavoidable disasters. Mitigation measures include:

  • Hazard zonation mapping
  • Vulnerability assessment
  • A holistic approach to Land-use Planning and management
    • Action plans for checking unplanned urbanisation
    • Accord priority for improving urban drainage
    • Review of municipal regulations - development control regulations, building bye-laws and structural safety features etc.
  • Monitoring critical infrastructure like dams, roads, bridges, flyovers, railway lines, power stations, water storage towers, irrigation canals.
  • Building standards, use regulations and safety codes-
    • Ensuring safe construction of new buildings and retrofitting
    • Compliance to Earthquake guidelines
    • Effective enforcement mechanism
    • Monitoring through IT tools
  • Synergies in our approach and strategies for climate change adaptation
  • Restoration of ecological balance in Himalayan regions
  • Raising coastal shelterbelt plantations etc.

Incorporation of above mitigation measures in national and regional development planning. Its effectiveness depends on the availability of information on hazards, emerging risks, and the countermeasures to be taken. The mitigation phase consists of the shaping of public policies and plans that either modify the causes of disasters or mitigate their effects on people, property, and infrastructure.

According to NPDM, 2009, a multi-pronged approach needs to be adopted to undertake mitigation measures:

  • Building mitigation measures into all development projects.
  • Initiating of National level mitigation projects by the NDMA, in high priority areas, with the help of the Central Ministries and Departments concerned and the States.
  • Encouraging and assisting State level mitigation projects in accordance with the guidelines.
  • Indigenous knowledge on disaster and coping mechanisms adopted by various States will be given due weightage with special focus on the protection of heritage structures.

Preparedness - Planning how to respond. It includes preparedness plans, emergency exercises/training and warning systems.

  • Establish, upgrade and modernise the forecasting and early-warning systems for all types of disasters
  • Identify technological gaps and formulate projects for their up-gradation, in a time-bound manner
  • Put in place ICT tools need to be used for data receptions, forecasting and timely dissemination.
  • setting up IT infrastructures for real-time dissemination of warnings and information to the affected community and local authorities
  • Strengthening of the Emergency Operations Centres at all levels by equipping them with contemporary technologies and communication facilities and their periodic up-gradation
  • DM plans for hospitals: It includes developing and training of medical teams and paramedics, capacity building, trauma and psycho-social care, mass casualty management and triage.
  • Testing and refining of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) through training, seminars and mock drills
  • Partnership:
    • Community-Based Disaster Preparedness
    • Coordination of local NGOs, NCC, NSS etc.
    • Strengthen and formalise CSR and PPP role in the DM process include supporting disaster relief and rehabilitation activities
    • Effective partnership with the Media, as it plays a critical role in information and knowledge dissemination in all phases of DM.

Response - Efforts to minimize the hazards created by a disaster.

The response includes search and rescue and emergency relief operations. A prompt and effective response minimises loss of life and property. A compassionate approach to the special needs of vulnerable sections is also important.

  • For various types of disasters, the concerned nodal Ministry will chart out detailed Response Plans which will be integrated into the National Response Plan. And the NEC may coordinate response in the event of any threatening disaster situation or disaster.
  • It is the primary responsibility of the State Governments/SDMAs to monitor and assess any developing situation and keep the NDMA and NEC apprised of the same.
  • Revision and application of SOPs for activities like search and rescue, medical assistance, causality management, evacuation, restoration of essential services and communication at disaster sites, etc.
  • Support to first-line defenders like PRI, ULB and communities from Police, SDRF, Fire and Medical services etc.

Recovery –Efforts to returning the community to normal. Recovery includes building temporary housing, grants and medical care. ‘Build back better.’ is the guiding principle.

  • Post-disaster management of health, sanitation and hygiene services is crucial to prevent an outbreak of epidemics.
  • Setting up of Temporary Relief Camps
  • Review of Standards of Relief/ Relief Code by SDMA to address the contemporary needs of communities affected by disasters
  • Generate temporary livelihood options for the affected community
  • Construction of intermediate shelters with suitable sanitary facilities
  • Contingency plans for reconstruction in highly disaster-prone areas
  • Restoration of permanent livelihood of those affected by disasters and special attention to vulnerable sections


Disaster management is a coordinated effort of multiple stakeholders. State governments and local government must identify the gaps in the existing prevention and mitigation measures and also evaluate the status of preparedness and response to build back better. Performance of audit of Disaster Management efforts, which reveal gaps in the architecture, needs to be conducted. The DM architecture needs to be supported by a solid foundation of frontline R&D efforts, which offers state-of-the-art science and technology options in a user-friendly manner.

To boost the preparation of all our users, we have come up with some free video (Live Class) series.

Here are the links:

Daily Current Affairs

Daily Editorial Analysis

IAS Prelims 2021: A series of important topics

IAS Prelims 2020: A series of important topics

Road to UPSC EPFO: A series of important topics

More from us

Get Unlimited access to Structured Live Courses and Mock Tests- Online Classroom Program

Get Unlimited access to 60+ Mock Tests-BYJU'S Exam Prep Test Series


write a comment

Follow us for latest updates